So I tried Glass. Downloaded the app, clicked to open a new account using my Apple ID, and then waited a couple of days while I moved slowly/swiftly (how do you measure these things?) up the waiting list queue. Waiting list? Really? Invite code? I get it. It makes it seem more attractive and exclusive. Perhaps people are more likely to sign up if you make them wait. Fine. Here’s the thing, though. My daughter also clicked to join and then moved up the waiting list, and although she did so after I did, she received her invite code ahead of me. And then mine went into the Spam, so I missed it for a few hours.
You get a 14-day free trial, which is probably just enough time to decide whether you need it or not. After that it costs a fiver a month or £25 per year (at launch, as it says). So I think you’re going to have to really need it to be willing to pay.
What is Glass? It’s an app (iOS only at the moment, because every developer knows that Android users in general don’t like paying for anything, it being the price-conscious choice – don’t @ me) that allows you to create an account, then upload photographs to it. You can follow other members, look at their photos, and post comments. They follow you and post comments on your photos, but there are no “like” buttons. The subscription fee means there are no ads, and they promise that your feed of photos will just be chronological, like in the good old days.
The good old days of what? Well, I was in at the ground floor (2004, baby) of the original Flickr, the photo sharing site that allowed you to create an account, upload photos, and like and comment on other people’s photos. Flickr was where the hashtag was invented, where the whole concept of photo sharing took off. Flickr was pre-iPhone, and one of the many reasons it died a death was that it was slow to get on the iPhone platform, and when it did it’s app was terrible. Meanwhile Instagram came along and stole Flickr’s thunder. Flickr was lost in various corporate takeovers and languishes, home to the die hards.
I loved Flickr. There are still over 5000 photographs on my old account, but I’ve moved on to the extent that I’m not willing to pay an annual subscription to it. Which doesn’t bode well for Glass, I suppose.
And here’s the thing. Very early on, I was put off by the bland comments. “Great shot”; or, worse, “Great capture”. I was also put off by the creeper tendency in the hobby of photography. The number of men who post photographs of women taken with their expensive camera equipment. Finally, I was put off by the narcissism of the selfie. In Flickr’s early days, we didn’t even have a name for the phenomenon. Self-shot, mirror shot, self portrait. Fishing for compliments. Subsequently, the whole culture was infected with this narcissistic tendency, including myself, and the toxic transactional posting of Instagram is the result.
So Glass is looking to detox photography by not having a Like button, fair enough. The thing is though, that it took very little time for me to realise that I didn’t want to be followed by complete strangers, and I didn’t want to follow them back. I don’t want comments from strangers on my photos, and I don’t want to post comments. In other words, while I still enjoy posting pics online (using Twitter, or this blog), the idea of starting all over again with a new thing doesn’t appeal.
As to the app, it’s supposed to be “distraction free”, showing off the photos at their best, and it looks tasteful and all, but… it just felt anodyne and pointless. So, no subscription for me, and I deleted the app.
One caveat: if my £25 subscription allowed my family to download and use the app without paying any more, then I might have considered keeping it. Then we could all follow each other and see the whole family’s best pics. But in the absence of that, nope. Actually, there’s a gap in the market for families to be able to share photos privately, because Apple Photos sharing is a bit shit, or a bite shite.
Blood on the Tracks: The John Lennon Story (podcast)
Jake Brennan made his name with Disgraceland, the trashy true crime/music podcast, and he’s now producing other podcasts for iHeartRadio and Amazon Prime Music. He has a slick presentational style which obviously appeals to a lot of people. His previous season of Blood on the Tracks was about Phil Spector. I listened to half an episode and decided it was too trashy and breathless for my taste.
And this is the same, I think. I saw this recommended in the Guardian so I gave it a listen. But it’s trashy tabloidy shit, rehashing the same old Lennon narratives and repeating the same old lies. And I think this is a real shame, when so much great work is being done by independent, fan-driven, well-researched podcasts like AKOM, One Sweet Dream, Nothing is Real, Eggpod etc. Fan-driven but not afraid to be critical, and most importantly, not afraid to challenge the narrative(s). And yet this shitty podsploitation is the one that gets recommended by the Graun and the marketing thrust of iHeartRadio etc.
One to avoid.
The Rolling Stones: A Bigger Bang (Live)
This 2006 free concert in Rio was “seen” by a million and a half people and has now been remastered and released in various formats – in full, as they say. “[T]he whole band in blistering form” claims guitar.com.
Well, maybe. Maybe they were all in blistering form. Jagger was in fine voice, sure, as long as you ignore the fact that he seems to have forgotten the original melodies of all their songs. Fine, yes, Dylan does this. Jagger and Dylan, sure. But to turn the creeping menace of “Midnight Rambler” or “Sympathy for the Devil” into a jolly singalong, I don’t think so. Also, he explores a variety of weird pronunciations: bee-beh (baby); hosses, or was it hasses (horses). And so on, to distracting effect. Keith Richards was in good form, although, as ever, not in good time, apparently in a different time zone to both Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood. Also, guitar sounded a bit out of tune to me at times. And Ronnie? Maybe he was in good form, but as his guitar was mixed several dBs lower than Richards’, I could’t tell. As to Charlie Watts, well. Since nobody was bothering to play in time with each other, you don’t know what to say. But he does come in and drown out the bongoes (?) on “Sympathy for the Devil”.
Keith seemed to be snatching at riffs, Ronnie was playing a different song, Mick was reciting the words with a mere glance at the tunes. I’ve always thought the Stones were awful live. Sure, they generate excitement, but they play so badly. A lot of these songs deserve better. “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll” needs to be played with a louche swagger, as does “Tumbling Dice”; “Honky Tonk Women” needs some attack; and “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” does not need any extra notes in its riff, for fuck’s sake.